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we likewise observe David (2 Sam. vii. 18), he went in, and sat before the Lord; he composed himself to his business. And that ye would learn to avoid untenderness and rashness, instability, and lightness, and vanity, while as we are meddling with the ordinances of God: we beseech you, learn to compose yourselves in all the work of the Lord; compose your heart, compose your eyes. It is something sad, that scarce any can exempt themselves from wandering eyes and vaging hearts, while they are about God's ordinances. Oh for that tenderness that might make us afraid of one wandering thought, and for that tenderness that might make us afraid of one straying look! Are we not before the Lord whose business it is?
2. Next, learn from it, that there is not the least signification in all Christ's carriage at his last supper of kneeling, or that which is ordinarily called geniculation; but he intimates it to us over and over again in a sitting posture, such as was the ordinary table gesture of those times, in that place of the world. And, therefore, as there is just cause to throw that scandalous idol of ceremonies out of the church of these nations, so we have just cause, in our several stations, to pray that God would keep these islands, that they be not brought in again.
The Third circumstance in the text, is the persons with whom he sat down, that is, the twelve apostles. And you do very well know, that these twelve were not all of one sort, or we may say, they were not all one man's bairns. (John vi. 70), "Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?" And yet, the Lord Jesus Christ sits down with him, as well as the rest; yea, all of them, though they were not such as Judas, had many great weaknesses and infirmities, all of them had but very small knowledge of many divine mysteries. Christ says to Philip, "Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip?" (John xiv. 9). And all of them are contending for primacy and superiority over one another, all of them expecting and looking for Jesus Christ to reign as a
temporary king on earth. Yet notwithstanding of all these things, Christ sits down with them. We would note
this, that hypocrites may be, and often are called to the participation of divine mysteries; they are brought to the external fellowship and society of the people of God. We will not here determine whether Judas was a communicant. He did no doubt eat the passover, as is acknowledged by all; he was of Jesus Christ's company and fellowship several years, and partakes with them in the communion and fellowship of church ordinances-which holds out, that hypocrites do partake of external privileges, and holds out, that he will have his church made up both of believers and hypocrites. Therefore all of us are called on this ground to look to ourselves. We may be present at the hearing of the word, and come to the table, and partake of the blessed sacrament, and yet, for all that be hypocrites, we may be Judases, such who have devils. We beseech you, look to it what length Judas went. He was a professor, an apostle who preached and did miracles in the name of Christ; yea, more, he was a professor of old standing, and yet the first who sold Jesus Christ the Lord-yea, an eminent professor of old standing, and followed him whithersoever he went of a long time—yea more, an eminent professor in suffering for Christ. He was engaged in many persecutions that Christ was subjected to-and yet, a devil! Therefore ye should take heed that Judas' worm be not at the root of your gourd, I mean, that the love of the world be not at the root of your heart. Oh! that is a distinguishing thing as to the reality and sincerity of many a man's profession.
The next thing it yields us is, that the Lord Jesus Christ alloweth very weak Christians to be fellow-communicants with him. The apostles, many of them, if not all of them, were very weak, and had right many great infirmities; weak in knowledge, weak in faith; so that Christ pleads long, ere he bring that length as to give profession of their faith, and to say they believe, that he says, "Do ye now believe?" (John xvi. 31). They had many carnal coun
sels of the kingdom of Jesus Christ, yet he allows them to sit down with him. We do not speak of this to encourage any in their infirmities, but that some, though they be compassed about with many infirmities, and are not so strongly mortified as they would be, may not be so discouraged, as to think that Christ will not allow them to sit down at his table. Thou who desirest to come to Christ to be lightened of these things, thou mayest come, though thou hast infirmities.
We come to the following verse, wherein Christ, as it were, maketh a short sermon of preparation to them before the communion: "With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you, before I suffer." We take the passover here, not simply as relating to that which is properly called the passover, but so as it comprehendeth that which he instituted instead thereof, I mean, the supper of his body and blood. And he gives the reason of his desire: "I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God,”—and, "I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come," (verses 16, 18). We shall not be able at this time to overtake these reasons, and, therefore, let us now return to the words of the 15th verse: “With desire I have desired,”- -a most pathetic fervent expression! I have heartily desired with all my heart; my soul longs much "to eat this passover with you, before I suffer," the words are not easily expressed in our language.
You may mark two things from the verse. One is, that Jesus Christ is possessed and led forth with most vehement fervent desires after those things that concern the salvation and comfort of his poor people. Of this nature is that which he speaketh here in eating the passover, a business that concerned the salvation and comfort of his people to the end of the world; therefore, most vehemently with desire he desired it. And several such passages flow from him, "I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straitened (or pained) till it be accomplished?" (Luke xii.
50). "I have meat to eat that ye know not of," (John iv. 32). "My meat is to do the will of him that sent me" (John iv. 34), and to finish the work. And many other things there are. One is, his valiant and cheerful offering of himself to undertake the business with the Father: "Lo, I come; I delight to do thy will, O my God," (Psal. xl. 7). Another thing is, that he was never more offended with any body concerning any thing, than with those who would dissuade him from the business. Ye know what he said to Peter, "Get thee behind me, Satan, thou art an offence unto me; for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men," (Matt. xvi. 23). Next, he is so far from declining any thing of that kind, that he most willingly offered himself thereto : I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair," (Isa. 1. 6). I hid not my face from shame and spitting. And as he most willingly offered himself, so he did most patiently undergo, and endure, and suffer. "He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth," (Isa. liii. 7). Lastly, Though all the world could not take his life from him, yet he laid it down of his own accord, to bring about the business: "No man taketh my life from me, but I lay it down of myself: I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again,” (John x. 18).
The reasons why our Lord Jesus Christ is thus carried out with most vehement desires to those things that concern the salvation and comfort of his people, are these: 1. He is God, and that is enough; therefore it behoved him to have such desires. "How shall I give thee up, Ephraim; how shall I deliver thee, Israel; how shall I make thee as Admah, how shall I set thee as Zeboim? Mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together," (Hos. xi. 8, 9). How so?" for I am God and not man.' These are affections beseeming him who is God. 2. And as he is God, so also man: "For verily he took not on him the nature of angels, but he took on him the seed of Abra
ham" (Heb. ii. 16), therefore "he is touched with the feeling of our infirmities," (Heb. iv. 15). 3. Which is the result of both, the unspeakable ineffable height, and breadth, and depth, and length of that love that possesseth his heart to his brethren; they are the objects of Ms love, therefore he vehemently desireth their salvation. 4. Last of all, pure pity. When he saw none in heaven or in earth to help, and wondered that there was no intercessor, therefore his arm brought salvation unto him, and his righteousness it sustained him; for he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak, (Isa. lix. 16, and lxiii. 5).
USE I. Now for application. It reproveth those whose desires are more vehemently carried forth toward something else than either their own salvation, or any body's else whatsoever. There are some whose desires are set on their lusts and their iniquities. So far art thou from conformity to Jesus Christ the Lord, that thou art in a real conformity with Satan; therefore, by the authority of the Son of God, we discharge thee from sitting down with Christ at his table. It reproveth a second sort, whose desires are more set on the world, than on their salvation. Ye live, as Solomon saith, like the horseleech; it crieth, "Give, give!" it has never enough, (Prov. xxx. 15). We say to thee also, till thou change thy way, thou art not entitled to any part or portion in this business. A next sort it reproveth, who have desires of revenge against those that have done them injury. Doth thy soul plead interest in Jesus Christ the Lord, and does thy desire run so cross to his? Beware: if you do not forgive, neither will your heavenly Father forgive you. And we know not on what consideration ye can come to the table of the Lord; and to stay away, you declare, that you are more tender of your own honour, than of the gracious offer of Jesus Christ the Lord. Therefore we obtest you in the name of Jesus Christ, to lay these humours aside. A next sort, though they be none of those, yet they have some idol